The Criminal Justice Initiative 2012 Grants

2011-2012 Grantee Profiles

Three years ago, as a harsh economy devastated families in poor communities, CJI turned its attention to the growing number of criminal justice policies that further undermine family stability. With an eye toward regional and national movement building, we funded organizations that educated and engaged broad constituencies to contest the most egregious of these practices. Our priorities included immigrant detention measures that separate parents from children with inadequate due process of law; legislation that strips incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people of their rights as citizens, workers, and parents; and school practices that label and criminalize young people.  Last year, we funded a new cadre of grantees to continue with this initiative. Their impressive array of work falls into four strategic domains: Civil and Human Rights of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated People, Reproductive Health and Parental Rights, Immigrant Detention and Racial Profiling, and Hyper-Incarceration of Youth of Color. 


Civil and Human Rights of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated People

Recent studies show that serving time in prison reduces the hourly wages of formerly incarcerated men by 11 percent, and decreases their annual earnings by 40 percent. In the context of our recent elections, which were decided by fewer than four million voters, it is shocking to note that nearly 6 million Americans have lost their right to vote because of a criminal conviction. This includes 4 million people who have been released to live, work, and raise families in our communities. Seeking an end to the practice of endless punishment, CJI’s 2012 grantees are leading the charge to restore the civil and human rights of millions of American citizens. Having passed model legislation in Alabama and Massachusetts, our current grantees are continuing the work in the South, in New York State, and in California, the state, which maintains the largest prison system in the country. This year’s efforts also include a national awareness campaign to protect the safety of transgender people in the criminal justice system.

All of Us or None: $10,000

Sacramento, CA

Funding to build an active Employment Rights Alliance, to coordinate and implement a strategic Ban the Box campaign, promoting the civil and employment rights of formerly incarcerated people in Los Angeles County.

Freedom Archives: $5,000

San Francisco, CA

Funding to support a web-based resource that chronicles the history of state-sponsored violence against targeted communities and prisoners, for use by current justice advocacy groups in their campaigns against prison control units, long-term isolation and torture.

The Ordinary People Society (TOPS): $9,000

Dothan, AL

Funding to organize former prisoners in partnership with statewide civil rights organizations, to re-enfranchise and restore the full civil rights of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.

Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP): $8,000

San Francisco, CA

Funding to challenge discrimination, unjust incarceration, and life-threatening human rights abuses committed against transgender, gender variant and intersex people in prison, and to advocate for alternatives to incarceration.


Reproductive Heath and Parental Rights

Since the introduction of mandatory minimum drug sentences in the 1980s, the number of women in U.S. prisons has grown by 400 percent. Incarcerated women face poor access to treatment for medical conditions, high rates of sexual abuse from guards and other prison personnel, and, for the nearly 2/3 of women prisoners who are mothers, the termination of parental rights while they are in prison. A little known fact that underscores the plight of incarcerated women is the widespread practice of shackling women during child labor and delivery. Led by currently and formerly incarcerated women, this year’s CJI’s grantees will improve access and conditions for children’s visits to their mothers in prison; represent women in termination of parental rights and healthcare access cases; and build the growing national movement to stop shackling women in their hospital beds during labor and delivery.

California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP): $10,000

San Francisco, CA

Funding to promote improved reproductive health services for women prisoners, including ending the practice of shackling during child labor and delivery, and providing compassionate release for elderly long-timers. 

Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM): $10,000

Chicago, IL

Funding to support community-based alternatives to prison; organize against automatic termination of parental rights, and  advance the national campaign to ban shackling of pregnant women. 

Justice Now: $10,000

Oakland, CA

Funding to provide legal services and community organizing to meet the needs deemed most urgent by women prisoners, including health care access; defense of parental rights, and placement in community-based program.

Women on the Rise Telling Herstory (WORTH): $8,000

Bronx, NY

Funding to monitor prisons to ensure compliance with newly won statewide legislation concerning mandated health care, extended parental rights, and anti-shackling; and to play a leading role in the national campaign against shackling.


Immigrant Detention and Racial Profiling

Dubbed “crimigration” by several of our grantees, the criminalization of immigrant status has spawned a new and urgent struggle against unfair practices. For the first time in America’s history, members of immigrant communities now comprise the majority of people in our federal prisons. This is true even though only 13% of the U.S. population is foreign born. This year’s CJI grantees will fight Arizona’s now-infamous immigration legislation; run campaigns to document and challenge unlawful racial profiling by police and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement); and provide critical know-your-rights training in a broad range of immigrant communities in Arizona’s border towns, in New York City, and inside detention facilities.  

Border Action Network (BAN): $5,000

Tucson, AZ

Funding to coordinate a statewide coalition, One Arizona, to defeat SB1070, and support a Racial Profiling Documentation Campaign with a human rights hotline and online reporting.

Desis Rising Up and Moving! (DRUM!)$10,000

Queens, NY

Funding to provide DRUM youth with leadership development to help end racial profiling through policy change; and to win passage of the School Safety Act.

Families for Freedom (FFF): $10,000

Brooklyn, NY

Funding to hold community-based trainings and teach-ins to recruit multi-ethnic community members into the Anti-Safe Communities campaign, and the Prison Divestment and Child Citizen Protection Act campaigns.


Hyper-Incarceration of Youth of Color

Numerous studies indicate that our nation’s heavy reliance on youth incarceration does not reduce future offending; provides no overall benefit to public safety; and exposes youth to high levels of violence and abuse. Despite these findings, recent data shows that more than 60,000 youth are incarcerated in the United States on any given night. This year’s CJI grantees will work directly in California’s toughest neighborhoods, providing positive and productive opportunities and offering cultural awareness for at-risk or gang-involved youth and their families. They will help develop emerging leaders to advocate for policy changes that reduce violence in their communities and provide training to help launch relevant social justice campaigns. Their comprehensive youth support programs help youth to develop coping skills, address domestic and gang violence, and provide drug and alcohol prevention.

Esculeas Si, Pintas No! (School Yes, Prisons No) (ESPINO!): $5,000

Stockton, CA

Funding to support Youth Empowerment Centers, which provide prevention, intervention, and re-entry services as well as advocacy, to promote healthy outcomes for young people.

Ex-prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement$14,000

Worcester, MA

Funding to support a new community-based initiative where children and families will receive counseling, mentoring and other services they need in lieu of having their behavior criminalized.

Homies Unidos$14,000

Los Angeles, CA

Funding to organize members and their communities to increase employment options and reintegration services for former gang members, and to educate and advocate for change concerning the intersection of criminal justice and immigration policies.